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Mark Waid’s Greatest Mark Waid Stories Ever Told!

As promised, here’s Mark Waid’s personal picks for his top ten greatest stories ever told.

Here is the list of the other creators and characters who were featured (including a link to the reader vote for Mark Waid’s Greatest Stories).

Thanks so much to Mark for playing along! Do note that Mark specifically told me that he was not going to pick any comic from the last three years. He noted that it was “not because I’m not equally proud of it but simply because I don’t feel like I have any real personal perspective on it yet.” So keep that in mind if you’re disappointed that, say, Irredeemable or that great Amazing Spider-Man arc he did with Marco Martin are not on the list!

Otherwise, enjoy!

I’ll include in brackets where the story ranked on the reader’s choice for Waid’s Greatest Stories Ever Told (if they were in the Top 20, at least, as honestly, I didn’t keep track after that).

10 (tie). JLA #43-36 “Tower of Babel” [3]

We’ve long heard tell that, if he were properly motivated, Batman could take down pretty much any hero (like if they went crazy, etc). Well, in this storyline, Ra’s Al Ghul uses Batman’s secret contingencies for each hero to take down the Justice League. Even if the League can manage to survive the plans Batman had for them, can they possibly forgive him for it? Howard Porter and Steve Scott drew this arc, which was Waid’s first arc as the regular JLA writer.

10 (tie). Impulse #3 “How to Win Friends and Influence People” [17]

In this done-in-one issue drawn by Humberto Ramos, Bart (Impulse) Allen enrolls in school and does a series of hilarious speed-related activities that soon make him the most popular kid in school. This issue was extremely well crafted by Waid, as it managed to seemingly be manic while secretly carrying out a distinct plot point.

9. The Kingdom: Offspring #1 “Flexibility” [16]

This tie-in to the Kingdom Come sequel (which gave us Hypertime, which was awesome!), The Kingdom, spotlighted Plastic Man’s son, Offspring. It was a well-told issue with a surprising amount of pathos. Plus, it was drawn by Frank freakin’ Quitely (back when he was just Frank Quitely)!!!

8. Captain America #445-448 “Operation: Rebirth” [8…spooky, huh?]

After a cool opening issue of their run where they get people used to the idea of a world without Captain America, Waid and Ron Garney come out blazing in #445 with the RETURN of Captain America! Brought back from the dead by his oldest enemy, the Red Skull, Cap is quickly thrown into an epic battle against no other than Adolf Hitler himself! Forced to team up with the Skull, Cap is shocked to learn that there is a third member of their adventure trio – Sharon Carter! You mean Agent 13, who’s DEAD? Yep, that’s the one! So this bizarre threesome take on Hitler and the Cosmic Cube in an action-packed drama that feels very much like a forebear to the terrific Ed Brubaker Captain America work of the last few years.

7. Silver Age: Dial H for Hero #1 – ‘The One-Man Justice League’ [N/A]

This tie-in to Waid’s fun Silver Age event was drawn by regular Waid collaborator Barry Kitson. The Silver Age event let Waid get cut loose with his love for DC’s Silver Age characters, and the results were an utter blast, including this Martian Manhunter/Robby Reed team-up. Hey, is this the first issue showing Robby Reed as living in Colorado?

This is the second comic on this list from May 2000 – a pretty good month for Waid, huh?

6. Potter’s Field [N/A]

The most recent series on the list, Potter’s Field is a brilliant detective series by Waid and the great Paul Azaceta which follows a fellow named John Doe who goes to “Potter’s Field” (the graveyard for the anonymous) and discovers the identity of the John and Jane Does in the graves (typically also solving their murders) and engraves their names on to their graves. A great high concept and a great execution. Potter’s Field is available in a beautiful hardcover from Boom! Studios! Go get it!

Story continues below

5. Kingdom Come [1]

Waid and Alex Ross put together this epic mini-series which showed a world where “grim and gritty” heroes have proliferated to the point where they are not even really heroes anymore. A great tragedy that was a result of one of the fights involving these heroes brings Superman out of retirement in an attempt to bring heroism back. But can Superman’s heroic idealism win out when the methods used involve throwing dissenters into a gulag? A gulag that seems to be a big super-powered powder keg? Lex Luthor, meanwhile, has his own plans to take advantage of the situation and what role will Batman take in all of this? The Spectre brings a mild-mannered minister to witness all of it.

4. Superman Birthright [11]

In this 12-part maxi-series, Waid and Leinil Francis Yu update Superman’s origin and beginnings to his career for the first time in nearly twenty years!

3. Fantastic Four #60 “Inside Out” [13]

Waid and the late, great Mike Wieringo began their acclaimed Fantastic Four run with this special one-off nine-cent issue that gave us the hidden (and heartfelt) origin of exactly why Reed Richards chose to call himself “Mister Fantastic.”

2. Flash #73-79 “The Return of Barry Allen” [2…that’s two perfect matches! Cool.]

Wally West’s greatest dream turned into a nightmare as his uncle, Barry Allen, the Flash before Wally, returns to life. Only thing are not what they seem, and soon Wally is forced to collect a group of speedsters to confront Barry, who has returned…different. This storyline introduced Max Mercury to the title and really began the whole “Speed Force” idea that became such a major part of the title. In any event, while Wally gets help from the other speedsters, he soon learns that it ultimately comes down to him and his own fears of replacing his uncle to win the day. Greg LaRocque drew this arc, in his swan song on the title, after a long run as penciler.

1. Flash #0 “Flashing Back” [6 as part of Terminal Velocity, 19 on its own]

While traveling through time (due to events in Zero Hour, DC’s crossover of the time), Wally sees various major points in his lifetime, including a mysterious visit he remembered changing his life as a child. This was the set-up for the classic Flash storyline Terminal Velocity, as during the journey through time he sees a glimpse of the future that shakes him to the core and sets him off on a journey to avoid having that future come true. A striking done-in-one tale drawn by the great Mike Wieringo (who was just about at the finishing line of his great Flash run with Waid).

Thanks again to Mark for sharing his picks with us! Very cool of you.


Awesome to have this list! Haven’t read Potter’s Field (yet) but I know from personal experience the rest are all outstanding works.

Thanks very much Mark Waid for sharing, I know all the readers here appreciate it very much!

Interesting/weird that none of his Barry Kitson collabos make it…JLA: Year One and Empire are probably one and two on mine.

Regardless, very cool and I imagine a difficult exercise for a creator to attempt. Thanks BC and MW!

This is really cool, and thanks to Mark Waid for doing this. I’d love to see more creators give their own personal top tens – sometimes when a creator pimps something I wasn’t so hot on the first time as some of their best work, I go back and reevaluate it and notice something totally new. And that’s always awesome.

I’m really shocked that Empire didn’t make it, as that’s easily my favorite thing he’s ever done. And I’m a pretty big Mark Waid fan.

It’s too bad Mr. Waid didn’t give us some insight on why he chose this order. That would have been VERY interesting.

Waid is one of those guys (like Roger Stern) who takes you by surprise when you look at their back catalogue and realise how many awesome things they’ve been involved with. I’ll definitely be checking out Potter’s Field, what a great concept….

By the way, did we ever get the top 25 greatest Batman stories or did I miss something?

Mark Waid did something with Frank Quitely?


Flash 0 ?
Really? Why? I don’t get it.

Like I said earlier just read Flash 62-77 RECENTLY and this is stuffed with pathos and teen angst galore.
Oh Barry, I want to have your kids, oh Iris you’re the coolest person in the universe, blah, blah, self-doubts every second issue and so forth.

Very dated.

X-men Unlimited # 10 was awesome and should be on here.

spooky, huh?

Pedantic math fact: if you rearrange a finite set of items, like Mark Waid written comic books, you expect on average one match (and one match is the most common scenario, it happens roughly 1/e of the time, independent of the number of items you are rearranging.)

The above assumes that all rearrangements are equally likely. In this case of measuring popular comic books, there’s a bit of clustering (people don’t pick their favorite comic books at random), which would tend to increase the number of matches.

(This post brought to you by JLI Quarterly 9 and a desire to improve people’s understanding of math.)

“Interesting/weird that none of his Barry Kitson collabos make it…”

Kitson worked on that Silver Age issue, as mentioned in the article.

It’s fun to see creators judge their own work.
Reading into Mark Waid’s personality (which is fun in a case like this), I can get a good idea of what he might care about as a person from the choices made, and that he took to make this list with the best thoughtful but ‘light’ sense possible.

The Ugly American

June 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

You people who want Empire on this list want to know why Empire isn’t on these lists?

It’s because you were the only people who read it.

There. It had to be said. Reality sucks, I know.

Ugly American: But we can assume that Waid himself has read it. I’m never surprised when some well-loved but obscure works don’t make it onto these lists, but this one is by Mark Waid about Mark Waid comics, so I think people are a bit surprised he doesn’t hold that in higher esteem.

Potter’s Field! How could I forget?

Like I said earlier just read Flash 62-77 RECENTLY and this is stuffed with pathos and teen angst galore.
Oh Barry, I want to have your kids, oh Iris you’re the coolest person in the universe, blah, blah, self-doubts every second issue and so forth.

Very dated.

I’ve been reading a few issues from the same span that I just recently picked up, and I find them refreshing as hell, and quite well-written.

That doesn’t make sense, UA. Given that Waid compiled the list, it doesn’t make a difference how many people have read the story.

I haven’t read Empire, but Waid can certainly be relied on for good writing.

Interesting contrasts between the fan list and Mark Waid’s own.

The big drop is KINGDOM COME, which I consider to be a stone masterpiece despite its negative influence. Mr. Waid clearly feels that he has done better.

FLASH #0 is the biggest riser and I’ve not read it. Pretty exciting.

I think Waid’s list reflects the fact that he is a Silver Age and Big 2 fanboy and likes his work in those universes. I’m actually surprised that JLA: Year One isn’t on his list.

The Ugly American

June 2, 2010 at 11:49 am

@All – I didn’t realize Waid made this list; I just assumed it was like all the other lists in this sea of lists we’ve been drowning in for what feels like the past couple months or so.

@All – I didn’t realize Waid made this list; I just assumed it was like all the other lists in this sea of lists we’ve been drowning in for what feels like the past couple months or so.


That’s ONE way to say “I screwed up and didn’t read before I commented.”

I’ve read and enjoyed everything on this list except the Dial H one-shot. To the back issue bins!

Though I’ve got to say that I’m surprised KA-Zar didn’t make the cut. That was really good stuff from Mark.

Though I’ve got to say that I’m surprised KA-Zar didn’t make the cut. That was really good stuff from Mark.

My guess is that Mark’s experiences on Ka-Zar were not without some notable interference, so I dunno if Ka-Zar (which WAS good, I agree) totally came out the way he envisioned it.

I really like Flash 0 too. I like Born to Run more, maybe, though. When I was a kid, I so wished Iris was MY aunt too.

This is very cool getting Mr. Waid’s perspective on this stuff. I’m also surprised at the absence of Empire, but I imagine it may have been pretty depressing to write, so maybe it doesn’t stick in his mind as fondly. On the other hand, there’s lots of Flash stuff here which he may associate with fond memories, as that run was really a break-out one for him. Glad he’s proud of that FF no. 60 story, too.

I would have thought Ruse would have made it, ’cause that certainly looked like it was fun to write.

Anyway, obviously I’m speculating on what’s in Mr. Waid’s head, but it was very nice of him to share his views with us.

And one thing I can state as fact is that I’d never heard of Potter’s Field and now I want to read it!

Or at least I’m speculating on what he’s thinking in terms of his list, not really on what’s in his head, although I imagine it’s full of wondrous ideers.

I wonder what he thinks of his !mpact work. I loved how he tied it all up with The Crucible.

I’ve read all of these except Captain America and Potter’s Field. I didn’t love the Silver Age mini-event, but the Dial H issue was quite good. I was not much impressed with the JLA arc or Birthright, but I guess writers are proud of certain works for their own reasons (and hey, looks like a good number of fans liked those, as well).

why is it that this sort of thing never matches with the readers reception of an author?

by the way, can someone please ask ENNIS to make his own list???

1/e is the probability that 0 objects are matched. Therefore at least one match is 1 – 1/e which is .6321. But this would be the case if we just reordered 10 things in ten spots. In this case, Waid wrote many more than ten, so we are only checking the connections in the first ten. I think the probabilities would be about the same anyways. 2 matches should be around what you’d expect.

He did it with Brian Augustyn but Detective Comics Annual is one of my all tome favorites.

It is Detective Annual #2. If people gave not gotten a chance to read it they should. It is great.

The “Unthinkable” prologue is one of the best things that Waid has done (see other list). Really surprised he doesn’t think so. That entire arc is one of my favorite FF stories ever; he really hit that one out of the park. And his Flash stuff with Savitar is top-notch. Love Mark Waid. He might be our best American comic writer. His mixture of high concept thinking and character driven work is hard to match.

Glad to see JLA #18-#19 made the other list. Love that story. And his later issues with the Queen of Fables and the White Martians are really good too. Too bad Hitch couldn’t finish them. I love the two of them on “Heaven”s Ladder” but I partly blame that oversized book on why Hitch couldn’t fulfill his art duties on the regular JLA title. Great looking book, though.

The Ugly American

June 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm

If I was a creator, I’d cite my worst work in a list like this, just to get it more attention/sales.

Enrique, there’s both a roughly 1/e chance of exactly 0 matches and a roughly 1/e chance of exactly 1 match among the entire list, assuming the choice is random. (For n matches, there’s a roughly 1/n!e chance.)

But again, choices aren’t made independently, and the dependence is going to make it so the matches are more likely to show up along the popular group.

Needs more FF, like Unthinkable and Rising Storm.

A personal favorite of mine appeared in a JLI QUARTERLY (don’t remember the number) and was drawn by Ty Templeton. It was called “When Titans Date” and involved Wally, Booster and Fire spying on Ted Kord on a blind date. Hilarity, of course, ensued. it never makes anybody’s list but I love it!

The Captain America “Red Skull” issue, where the Skull is trapped in his own Hell in the cosmic cube is one of the best examples of a character breakdown I’ve ever read. I can see why he left that issue off here, as Marvel’s heavy-handed editing of this issue (look it up) still seemed to bother him even years later.

I remember reading his first Cap run.It was fun… then it seemed to stop, which was pre-determined by the Unfinished Business deal Marvel had made.

“If I was a creator, I’d cite my worst work in a list like this, just to get it more attention/sales.”

If this isn’t a joke, and assuming there’s a real gap between one’s best and worst creations, this marketing strategy seems at best… short-sighted.

Potential new fans seeking a recommendation from the creator themselves, try a dud story, dislike it, and are inclined to decide “If this dog is the among his best(!), he’s a creator not to my taste. I’m certainly less likely to try other works of his again”.

Thus losing a potential new long-term fan (had they been introduced to the best work) for a one-off sale or two.

for the folks talking about “he doesn’t think much about x”….

I’m not sure when Waid entered the industry as a writer (I know he was an editor for a while) but let’s estimate 20+ years….how many gazillions of comics has he written in that time?

This is a list of 10 of those gazillions. If something is #15 doesn’t mean he didn’t like the work…it means there were 14 out of a gazillion he thought was better.

mckracken — Waid has spoken in the past about how very personal a story FLASH #0 is for him, and how much of himself and his experiences he put into that story, which is why it didn’t surprise me to see him list it at #1.

dhole – I suspect some of the CrossGen craziness might have impacted Waid’s opinion of his work there negatively. And, at the same time, narrowing down a list of all the things he’s written to just ten comics? Lots of great stuff won’t make the list.

I remember really enjoying his run on Valor (and Legion of Super-Heroes, I think) in the lead-up to Zero Hour. But I haven’t read it in years. I met him at SDCC at the time and remember saying he was the best comics writer working and he joked, “Why don’t you say that a little louder?” so I shouted it as loud as I could. Good times. Great writer.

Travis Pelkie

June 3, 2010 at 1:50 am

This stuff is awesome. Interesting that the Silver Age special made the list. I have it, but haven’t read it in a while. Love the Flash, the FF 9 cent is great (well, maybe not the Thing rapping…), and Offspring is wonderful. Gotta check out Potter’s Field then.

If Mr Waid is reading, I know he was supposed to be at Ithacon some time in the last, oh, 5 years or so, but something happened with his flight, I guess. So Mark, if you can, get to Ithacon some time, please! It’s a great little show and I’d love to meet you and get a bunch of these great comics of yours signed.

And hey, when Tom Peyer was there in the fall, he was wearing one of the “Mark Waid is Evil” tshirts.

Its a shame Waid doesn’t believe JLA: Year One deserves a top ten slot. IMO, Infinite Crisis or not, THAT’S the definitive origin for the Justice League of America.

Number one is where Waid and I had the same issue. Flash #0 is, even with having read Hitman, Starman, etc, my favourite comic of the 90s.

[…] on the reader-chosen Greatest Mark Waid Stories Ever Told, Comics Should Be Good got Mark Waid to pick his own list of favorite stories from his work. A lot of the usual suspects still appear, but one of the […]

Impulse #3! Yay! I love that issue so very much, seriously. And I just plain love the series in general…

So glad he likes his work on Impulse as much as I did.

I think the F.F. owe Offspring for stealing his look! :)

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